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Hailed recently by the Daily Telegraph as ‘a voice of real distinction’, Nicky Spence is fast emerging as one of ‘our finest young singers’. An artist of great integrity, Nicky’s unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty in his musicianship are steadfastly earning him a place at the top of the profession. Highlights for this season include his Metropolitan Opera debut as Brian Two Boys, Steva Jenufa at La Monnaie, Brussels, Steersman The Flying Dutchman in concert with the CBSO under Andris Nelsons and at Scottish Opera, Isacco La Gazza Ladra for Frankfurt Opera, Francesco Benvenuto Cellini in Amsterdam/ENO, Iago Otello (Rossini) for Buxton Festival and an appearance at the BBC Proms with the BBCSSO. Other concerts include his New York recital debut with Malcolm Martineau, a performance of Beethoven Symphony No.9 at the Barbican with the Philharmonia and a Valentines Concert Series with the RNSO and Kwame Ryan. On stage, Nicky’s other roles include Brian in the World Premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys and Novice Billy Budd (dir. David Alden) for the ENO; Chevalier de la Force Les Dialogues des Carmélites for

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Hailed recently by the Daily Telegraph as ‘a voice of real distinction’, Nicky Spence is fast emerging as one of ‘our finest young singers’. An artist of great integrity, Nicky’s unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty in his musicianship are steadfastly earning him a place at the top of the profession.

Highlights for this season include his Metropolitan Opera debut as Brian Two Boys, Steva Jenufa at La Monnaie, Brussels, Steersman The Flying Dutchman in concert with the CBSO under Andris Nelsons and at Scottish Opera, Isacco La Gazza Ladra for Frankfurt Opera, Francesco Benvenuto Cellini in Amsterdam/ENO, Iago Otello (Rossini) for Buxton Festival and an appearance at the BBC Proms with the BBCSSO. Other concerts include his New York recital debut with Malcolm Martineau, a performance of Beethoven Symphony No.9 at the Barbican with the Philharmonia and a Valentines Concert Series with the RNSO and Kwame Ryan.

On stage, Nicky’s other roles include Brian in the World Premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys and Novice Billy Budd (dir. David Alden) for the ENO; Chevalier de la Force Les Dialogues des Carmélites for Grange Park Opera; Don Ottavio Don Giovanni for New Zealand Opera; Tamino The Magic Flute (dir. Sir Thomas Allen) and Baron Lummer Intermezzo for Scottish Opera; Lampwick The Adventures of Pinocchio at Opera North; Quint The Turn of the Screw for Arcola Theatre, London; Thomas Mason in Jenny McLeod’s opera Hohepa for New Zealand Opera; MacHeath The Beggar’s Opera, Tom Rakewell The Rake’s Progress and Jaquino Fidelio at Opera Holland Park. Future opera plans include Rodolphe Giullame Tell and Mambre Mosè in Egitto at WNO, and David Die Meistersinger at the ENO.

Recent concert performances include Elgar's The Kingdom at Kings College, Cambridge; Act 1 of Tristan and Isolde with the BBC Scottish Symphony and Donald Runnicles; Finzi’s Dies Natalis with the BBC Concert Orchestra and David Hill; Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with L’Orchestre National d’Ile de France under Gordan Nikolic and at the Wigmore Hall with Chamber Domaine and Thomas Kemp; C-minor Mass at the Cadogan Hall with the English Chamber Orchestra; a live broadcast of Brahms Liebesliederwalzer at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw; a Beethoven recital at The Forge; a Britten Song-Cycle Series in Aldeburgh; a recital series at Kings Place as part of their Britten 100 celebrations, and appearances at the Oxford Lieder Festival, St. John’s Smith Square, Spitalfields festival and the Purcell Room.

An experienced recording artist, Nicky attracted a long-term recording contract with Universal Classics at a young age and has increasing recognition on stage, radio and television as a presenter and performer alike, having contributed to tours and Platinum Selling disks the world over. In latter years, he has enjoyed successful collaborations on record with Graham Johnson (Schumann: The Complete Songs Vol. 10 / Hyperion), Britten Songs with Malcolm Martineau (Onyx), Messiaen’s La Mort du Nombre with Sholto Kynoch (Stone Records) and a disc of premiere Hoddinott recordings.   Adding to his credentials in contemporary repertoire, his recent world-premiere recording of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s song cycle A Constant Obsession, for Resonus Classics, received uniformly excellent reviews.  Earlier this year, Nicky released his debut solo recital disc with Malcolm Martineau entitled As you like it: Shakespeare Songs, which brought him great acclaim: ‘Nicky Spence is a young singer with a lovely sound, an astonishingly varied emotional range, and a way of telling a story through a song that grips the listener and doesn’t let go… He has the true singer’s gift of communication, without which these works would just be pretty but dull sounds. Instead – with the help of some superb accompanying from Malcolm Martineau – he brings them alive with joy, pain, love, despair and wit.’ - Warwick Thompson. Future recording plans include a CD of Eichendorff settings by Wolf with Sholto Kynoch, a recital disc of French Repertoire with Malcolm Martineau for Chandos Records and a disc of première Jonathan Dove Song-Cylces for Naxos.

Nicky is currently a Harewood Artist at  the ENO made possible by the American Friends of the ENO, having trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Opera Studio.  A former Britten-Pears Young Artist, Georg Solti and Samling Scholar, Nicky’s awards also include the National Bruce Millar Opera Prize, the Kathleen Ferrier Young Singers Award, the Concordia Barthel Prize, the Sybil Tutton Award, a Young Classical Performer of the Year nomination at the Classical Brit Awards and inclusion into the Gold Medal Final at the Guildhall School.

March 2014

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Reviews

"Spence’s voice is naturally thrilling, radiant and luminescent in just about every second of this programme, crossing stylistic boundaries with the silvery ease of a born entertainer…"

***** CD Review 'As You Like It...' - The Scotsman

"Star of the evening had to be Nicky Spence, who sang confidently and I hope with promise of more Rossini roles. Here was a tenor matching Bruce Ford in this repertoire, and it would be good to hear him in more serious Rossini in due course. "

Opera Britannia - Rossini: Otello / Buxton Festival

"Elan, intelligence and passionate engagement: Scottish tenor Nicky Spence brings it all to his exemplary performance of Out of Winter, the opening cycle on this disc of songs by Jonathan Dove. Spence's enunciation of the text (by the late Robert Tear, in response to Britten's Winter Words) has crystal clarity, while his singing runs the full gamut from the aching lyricism of Song I to the elated peroration of Song VI's conclusion."

BBC Magazine - Dove: All You Who Sleep Tonight

"Roger Quilter’s Three Shakespeare Songs, rich and genuine, were wonderfully delivered, and then came the jewel of the afternoon, Shakespeare settings by John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Spence and Lepper moved into torch-song mood, Spence’s fabulous body-language (not least his eyes and smile) conveying every nudge of this treasurable music"

Christopher Morley, The BIrmingham Post

"Nicky Spence, also a tenor, aptly stresses superficiality as the callow Steva…"

Jenůfa - George Loomis, The New York Times

"Nicky Spence rose to the challenge of ringing every possible drop of emotion from the score ... [He] sang with grace and aplomb."

Britten's War Requiem - Christie Franke, Bachtrack

"Tenor Nicky Spence was in ringing voice as Blanche’s brother, the Chevalier de la Force; every word registered and he clearly conveyed his dilemma when visiting Blanche to persuade her to escape. "

Dialogues des Carmélites - Opera Britannia

"[…] Nicky Spence’s Steersman made up the expert cast. Spence’s rumbustious yet delicate ceilidh display, with his troosers slipping down, could go viral if someone puts it on YouTube."

Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian

"Tenor Nicky Spence found it difficult not to steal the show from his fellow performers [...]. His charisma and trademark twinkle on Kurt Weill's Lonely House, from Street Scene, produced whooping and gruff chants of "Brilliant, son!" from the crowd."

Marianne Gunn, Scottish Opera

"And the tenor Nicky Spence changed my conception of the Novice. [...] With his husky frame and penetrating voice, Mr. Spence was a different kind of victim: an overgrown weakling who will do anything to avoid pain and punishment. "

Billy Budd, ENO - Anthony TommasiniI, The New York Times

"Spence [...] broadly overcomes the awkwardness of adults playing children on the stage – and does it with arrestingly bright, bell-like resonance [...] Spence is turning out to be a voice of real distinction (ENO, Two Boys)"

Michael White, The Telegraph

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Discography